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start:earth_sciences:terrestrial_gamma_flashes

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Terrestrial gamma-ray flashes

Terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) were first reported using data from the Burst and Transient Source Experiment (BATSE) on NASA's Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (CGRO) in 1994.

The short duration (0.2 to 3.5 milliseconds) atmospheric bursts were initially thought to be caused by relativistic runaway electron avalanches acting on natural background radiation or extensive cosmic-ray air showers - this is now discounted.

Current theories now include relativistic feedback or runaway electron production in the strong electric fields associated with lightning leaders or streamers, similar to the energetic radiation observed on the ground from lightning.

See Journal of Physical Research 2008

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